CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – A crowd of about 150 people were encouraged to “Think FAST” and recognize the symptoms of stroke as part of Summit Health’s free community health seminar “Stroke: Know the signs. Reduce your risk.”

Speakers from Summit Health and WellSpan Health addressed a number of topics related to stroke and also answered questions from the audience during the May 13 seminar.

Summit Hospitalist and Medical Director for the Stroke and Telehealth Programs for Summit Health Dr. Sanjay Dhar emphasized that symptoms happen suddenly, and as a result, medical attention is needed immediately.

Sudden symptoms that may indicate a stroke include:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause

Another way to remember signs and symptoms is with the acronym FAST:

F – Face drooping
A – Arm weakness
S – Speech difficulty
T – Time to call 911

He also introduced the concept of telemedicine for stroke care – where patients in remote areas are connected with a specialist quickly via high-speed, high-resolution and high-quality video conference.

“The access to healthcare is vastly different depending on where you live,” Dr. Dhar said. “We’re still in the era where we find it acceptable to drive great distance for specialized care, but a lot of that can be done remotely.”

Both Chambersburg Hospital and Waynesboro Hospital are Certified Primary Stroke Centers and partner with WellSpan Health to provide telestroke services to patients when a local neurologist is not available.

“Telemedicine compliments the care. It does not replace the care,” said Dr. Robert Sterling Jr., Neurologist from WellSpan Neurology. “Stroke medications, such as tPA, are only offered at a Primary Stroke Center. So having both hospitals certified assures patients they’re receiving high-quality care.”

Treating a stroke is also a team-effort, said Dr. Stephen Thuahnai, a radiologist with Chambersburg Imaging Associates and a member of the medical staff at Chambersburg and Waynesboro Hospitals.

There are two methods for confirming a stroke – a CT scan or an MRI. Radiologist must work with doctors to quickly produce and read the images to help determine which treatment is best.

“The quickest way to determine if there is something going on with the brain is with a CT scan,” Dr. Thuahnai said. “The first thing we have to decide is if the stroke is due to bleeding in the brain, which determines the type of treatment.”

After treatment, it is still a team effort as patients complete therapy. For many, joining a stroke support group has helped them challenge themselves and relate to others going through a similar experience, said Chris Parker, an occupational therapist at Chambersburg Hospital.

Carletta Moats of Chambersburg understands the effects of stroke far too well. Her first husband passed away four years after having a stroke in 2001. Less than a decade later, her second husband, Bob Moats, had a stroke in 2010.

However, with Bob the experience was different. Chris encouraged them to visit the Chambersburg Hospital Stroke Survivor Support Group and there they found welcoming people who understood their challenges.

“They cared for Bob and they cared for me,” Carletta Moats said. “We’ve been going to the stroke group ever since because now I want to be that person who says, ‘I understand.’ I don’t want anyone else to think it’s me and him against the world.”

For more information on stroke services at Summit Health, visit www.SummitHealth.org/Stroke. To learn more about Chambersburg Hospital’s Stroke Survivor Support Group, contact Chris Parker at (717) 267-7901.

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Summit Health is a non-profit network of hospitals and physician practices dedicated to building a healthier community.

As Franklin County's leading healthcare provider, Summit Health offers family care, specialists, lab and imaging services, a fitness center, two walk-in care centers, and two award-winning hospitals.

More information is available at www.SummitHealth.org and www.facebook.com/SummitHealth.

Thursday, May 22, 2014
Dr. Robert Sterling Jr. of WellSpan Neurology, Dr. Sanjay Dhar of Summit Health, and Dr. Stephen Thuahnai of Chambersburg Imaging Associates answered questions from the audience.